Editor’s Garage: Shrink a Big-Block Chevy— Service a Ford Trans — Burning Donuts

Did I ever tell you about the time I was minding my own business burning donuts in front of a Westminster, California, doughnut shop in my 1973 Jensen-Healy when I was rudely interrupted by a policeman? It’s not like I was burning an endless spiraling coil of smoking rubber into the pavement—it was just a couple of quick loops and then I slid the Jensen into a parking spot.

It was a warm Saturday morning, and I was on my way to work when I spotted two attractive young lasses in beach attire walk into the doughnut shop I was headed for. The thought I had to work while others could enjoy the beach overcame me, and the emotions manifested in the form of what some might call reckless driving. In my defense I looked to ensure no other cars were around the expanse of asphalt I needed to perform my mindless act, but I didn’t look out to Westminster Boulevard and notice a cop car was driving by.

Red lights blaring, the Westminster LTD II unit blocked me in my parking spot as I stood up to get out of the Jensen. I had a bad feeling my car was going to be leaving for impound on the hook of a tow truck, but after explaining how I was a victim of mind the tension between the cop and myself subsided. Maybe because I was on private property, or perhaps I admitted I was an idiot, but driving a properly insured and registered car, I was let go with a stern warning. That was in 1982. I hope that in 2020 there is still a chance for miscreants like myself where cooler heads will prevail, and a lesson is learned without having to pay a big price.

In a perfect world it would only take me a few hours to photograph and write a story for HOT ROD, and then I could jump in my trusty old GMC and head out to Chino and work some more on the ZZ454 that’s going into my 1966 Chevelle. But it’s not a perfect world, and sometimes it takes several days to produce a story, especially if the photo location is a relatively long drive from my home office. That coupled with an unexpected mechanical problem with my wife’s 1999 Mercury Sable station wagon, and I didn’t quite get as many things done last week as I wanted.

The one thing I have learned is almost every mechanical repair or situation where I have to diagnose a problem it’s really hard to find specific information on the internet. So with this in mind, I’m going to keep cranking out as many tech articles as I can and hopefully provide help for someone else with the same task at hand.

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Chevy Performance ZZ454 Looks Like a 375-hp SS396

Thanks to Summit Racing Equipment, the ZZ454 for the 1966 Chevelle looks like a 375-hp 396 engine. Didn’t stick with aluminum left bare on the intake manifold like a 375-hp 396 came from the factory. Tech features coming soon on A-body big-block swaps, Vintage Air Front Runner install, and FITech EFI installation.

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Replace Ford/ Mercury AX4N Auto Trans. Cooling Lines

The battery and battery box must be removed to gain access to replace AX4N transmission cooling lines. This AX4N was equipped with the optional “auxiliary transmission cooler,” which means the car has two transmission coolers. The standard incorporated in the radiator and the auxiliary running parallel beneath the radiator with a built-in power-steering pump cooler as well.

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Do Not Reuse AX4N Trans. Cooling Line Quick Connects

Buy new quick connects: There’s too much labor involved to trust the original equipment AX4N transmission cooling line quick connects will not leak if reused. For wanting of the right-sized metric flare nut wrench a 6-inch crescent wrench sufficed to undo the two quick connects.

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Place a Pan Underneath to Catch ATF From Cooling Lines

Once the transmission cooling lines are removed, ATF (automatic transmission fluid) will drain from the lines and the transmission. Inspect to ensure the bung is free from burrs and cracks before installing the new quick connects.

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6-Point 13/16-inch Socket Provides a Snug Fit

Installing the pair of transmission cooling line quick connects is working in a tight, confined area. A short-handled 3/8 flex ratchet with a 6-point 13/16-inch deep socket worked perfectly to install the top and bottom quick connects. Caution! Overtightening the quick connects can crack the bung in the AX4N aluminum transmission case.

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AutoZone Is the Place to Locate Hard-to-Find Parts

A 1999 Mercury Sable (Mondeo) wagon is a 21-year-old oddball. There are usually several quality grades to choose from at AutoZone. My go-to is to always check if Duralast has a fitment for what I’m working on. The AX4N transmission cooling lines and the power steering lines route blindly beneath the battery box. To avoid mixing the lines up, it is a good practice to mark on the new replacement cooling lines where they route to.

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